Two Very Different, Very Brilliant Dissections of Music’s Essence

Here’s a brief reprieve from all the editorializing: two recently discovered videos that changed the way I thought about music.

The first is not a single video but a Harvard lecture series by classical music icon Leonard Bernstein entitled “The Unanswered Question” from 1973. It is without a doubt the best 40+ year old video on music I have ever seen. Yes, I did watch all 11+ hours, even the protracted orchestral studies. I left with an understanding of music history and music theory that had finally crystallized in Bernstein’s lucid prose and performances. It’s a truly incredible series I encourage anyone with a love of music to get hooked on the first lecture:

If you don’t have time to explore the ramifications of Chomsky’s semantics on the origin of music and how it traces to the contemporary crisis of tonality — or if you have 30 minutes rather than 11 hours to spare — you need to see Vi Hart’s video:

Her “Twelve Tones” video recent went viral, reaching almost a million views at the time of this writing. Thirty minutes never went by so fast with your brain absorbing so much knowledge. It’s enough to make you wish Hart would team up with Salman Khan to start an online school of music. She even works some awesome tragicomic copyright jokes into her lesson!